BANKS NOT REALLY OUT OF CONTROL; THEY ARE BEYOND CONTROL
Likening the British establishment’s relationship with the financial sector to an alcoholic in denial, Joris Luyendijk writes another incisive article on banking culture in the Guardian.
Until 2008 there was denial over what finance had become. When a series of bank failures made this impossible, there was widespread anger, leading to the public humiliation of symbolic figures. But the scandals kept coming, and so we entered stage three – what therapists call “bargaining”. A broad section of the political class now recognises the need for change but remains unable to see the necessity of a fundamental overhaul. Instead it offers fixes and patches, from tiny increases in leverage ratios to bonus clawbacks and “electrified ring fences”.
Luyendijk continues, painting a picture of banks not as “cohesive units run by top bankers” but “loose federations of money-making franchises.” In other words, “the big banks have simply become too complex and too big to manage.”
Luyendijk describes his two year journey into the world of finance.
Before studying bankers I spent many years researching Islam and Muslims. I set out with images in my mind of angry bearded men burning American flags, but as the years went by I became more and more optimistic: beyond the frightening rhetoric and sensationalist television footage, ordinary Muslim people go about their day like all other human beings. The problem of radical Islam is smaller and more containable than Islamophobes believe.
With bankers I have experienced an opposite trajectory. I started with the reassuring images in my mind of well-dressed bankers and their lobbyists; surely at some basic level these people knew what they were doing? But after two years I feel myself becoming deeply pessimistic and genuinely terrified. This system is highly dysfunctional, deeply entrenched, and enormously abusive, both to its own workers and the society it operates in. The problem really is exactly as bad as the “banker bashers” believe.